A compassionate and useful work for practitioners and students of family therapy, this book presents a treatment framework that is compatible with a wide variety of therapeutic techniques. Focusing on the development over time of the family life cycle--from marriages in formation to the "post-parental couple"--William C. Nichols explores the unique challenges and opportunities that each stage of family life presents. Enhanced by illuminating case studies and the author's own deeply personal insights, this lively volume covers the therapy relationship, assessment modalities, techniques of engagement, and termination.
Divided into two main sections, the book first offers a theoretical overview of family therapy. The volume builds on systems concepts, as well as psychodynamic and behavioral principles, to offer a truly integrative view of therapy with families. Outlining his integrative approach--which incorporates the pioneering work of Harry Stack Sullivan, W. R. D. Fairbairn, and Nathan Ackerman--the author stresses the need to consider the force of the individual human personality in treatment. The development over time of the family life cycle--is then explored in detail, as Nichols details the clinical implications of this approach.
The second section focuses on evaluation and treatment. In-depth chapters demonstrate how to apply the approach during the various stages of the family's developmental life cycle, covering everything from planning therapy and defining goals to performing effective diagnosis and assessment and giving feedback to clients. Addressing therapy with families in formation, the book explores the dimensions of marriage through Nichols' "five C's": commitment, caring, communication, conflict/compromise, and contracts. One chapter deals with the bread and butter issues of family therapy, covering the variety of problems that can occur among parents and children of various ages. A poignant discussion of post-parental couples explores grief, loss, and other issues associated with aging. The book also provides a wealth of useful advice for treating problems that arise with divorce and remarriage. Throughout, special attention is given to ethical considerations in therapy, the responsibilities of both the therapist and clients, and issues of gender and ethnicity.
Combining an overview of the family therapy process with detailed case material, this invaluable resource will expand the horizons of front-line psychotherapists seeking to increase their knowledge and hone their clinical skills for work with individuals, couples, and families as they move through the lifespan. Accessible and practical, the work is also an excellent primary text for graduate students of family therapy.